Pension savers lost billions in government approved schemes

Thousands of UK pension savers have lost billions by investing in government approved schemes.

All were persuaded to invest in 105 bogus schemes which were signed up and approved by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) under Tony Blair’s government in 2006, making them seem legitimate.

Scams

But they were scams and victims lost their money in swindles which ran for a decade.

It is believed thousands of public sector workers lost a joint total of £10 billion after the transfer of their cash was approved by the Ministry of Defence and the NHS because of the HMRC endorsement.

The loophole under which the bogus companies were set up stemmed from a new process in 2006 which allowed schemes to be registered with HMRC by telephone in a matter of minutes and with virtually no checks being carried out.

Cold calling

Once the firm had been approved the swindlers set about finding their victims by cold calling and offering better financial returns on their investments.

But the money was invested in high risk schemes and often toxic investments which paid huge commissions to the scammers.

After the UK government tightened up on cold calling the scammers simply moved abroad to make their calls but still used the contacts they had made setting up their bogus savings schemes.

Industrial level

It has since been described by MPs as ‘an industrial level con’ and ‘a scammers paradise’.

Astonishingly, Stephen Ward, the man who advised the government on the 2014/15 Taxation of Pensions Bill, is accused of being one of the scammers who has made millions from five of the bogus schemes.

Salt in the wound

Now, in a move guaranteed to rub salt into the wound, the investors who lost money are being contacted by HMRC over concerns that they have broken the law by removing cash from their pensions and investing them elsewhere and paid n o tax on the transfer.

Victim Sue Flood and her husband lost £125,000. She said: “We and the rest of the victims sit like lambs to the slaughter whilst we wait for HMRC to devour our individual carcasses and to levy a tax penalty. How can this be justice?”

Wrecks lives

A spokesman for The Pensions Regulator said: “Pension scammers wreck lives. We and other agencies continue to put people behind bars for pension fraud while pursuing their ill-gotten gains.

“On many occasions we have put independent trustees in charge of scam schemes to prevent criminals draining away victims’ savings and we have a number of ongoing major criminal investigations into pension fraud worth tens of millions of pounds.

“Education remains the greatest weapon in our arsenal. We will not stop hunting the criminals responsible.”